Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: Souls-like

The Surge 2; the good, the bad, and the frustrating

So.  Let’s talk about The Surge 2. I’m still dealing with some shit physically, but I’ve been playing The Surge 2 on and off. More on than off, and I have feelings. So. Many. Feelings. I’m about halfway done with the game, which answers the question of whether I beat the first real boss or not. Who, by the way, is officially the third boss, but I refer to him as the first boss because the other two were tutorial bosses. In fact, in looking up the bosses for this article, I didn’t even remember the first boss at all. I mean, I had to fight him because I got out of the detention area, but when I saw his name, I was like, “What the fuck?” Even after reading about him and watching the video, I did not remember him. That’s how unmemorable he is, and I wouldn’t even call him a boss. We’ll get to that in a second.

Anyhoo, beating

*spoilers*

Little Johnny came down to sheer stubbornness on my part and something I mention often in playing Souls/Souls-like games: luck. There is always one or two moves by a boss that are troublesome for me.

Side Note: One thing I like about these games is how different people deal with different bosses. I’ve never had a problem with Gwyn, for example, and others took five hours to fight him. You’re supposed to parry him, and I’ve watched videos of people parrying him into oblivion. It’s a thing of beauty, and I really wish I could do it. More on that later as well.

I find in a good boss run, the boss doesn’t do the one move I hate that often. In the case of Little Johnny, it’s when he vomits the little spiders that shock you. He only did it once or twice in my successful run. Also, the stompy stompy bit. He didn’t do that much, either. I was pleased to be done with him and to be moving on with my life. Then, I encountered the area known as Gideon Rock, which was a microcosm of all I like and dislike about this game.

Let me just say flat out that gear is important in this game. In the original, I used the Liquidator set which was a light set with good resistance. Early on in this game, I wore the Scavenger set (Operator class) which was light, and the full set bonus was health regen on a finishing move. I will always take health regen over almost anything else. In Gideon’s Rock, I ran into an enemy that was way above my level. It’s called the GAIA Statue, and it’s a golden-plated statue that turns into a robotic enemy when you near it. When I first entered Gideon’s Rock, the statues had a red number–which meant they were waaaaay above me. I fought the first one right outside the hub for nearly an hour, and I didn’t manage to kill it once. I decided to run by it and continue on in the area.

I liked the new enemy type, Hunter, even if it frustrated me. They can go invisible, which they use to get next to you before trying to shank you. One thing I appreciate about The Surge 2 is that it has distinctive environments, which is so different than the drab industrial interiors of the original game. Gideon’s Rock is outdoors and very nature-based. I will say I had a chuckle at Metea Forest because it looked so much like a Souls‘ area, especially with the hunters, but that’s forgivable in my eyes.


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The Surge–put it in the done folder

making him feel it EXTRA.
Crucifixion never felt so good.

Ian and I sometimes talk about the way we game. He’s a Games Journalist™ now, but even before he had to play a million games a week, he had the tendency to dive into something for a bit, then move on to another game, rinse, lather, and repeat. I, on the other hand, will latch onto a game, then wring every ounce of content I can out of it and then some. ‘Coz I’m Taiwanese, and we’re a cheap people. I tend to have ‘my’ game, playing it obsessively until I finish the game. In this case, it’s The Surge. I wrote about the first half of it here.

Halfway through the game, I started getting sick of the game. Now, this is normal for me when I play a game, especially a Souls/Souls-like game. It’s the downside of ingesting a game until it bleeds out of my eyeballs. I clearly remember the first time I played the original Dark Souls. After the infamous duo, everything went rapidly downhill. I didn’t want to play the rest of the game. And, it’s pretty much accepted that the second half of the original Dark Souls doesn’t hold up to the first half, do not @me, Souls fans, because you know it’s fucking true. When I beat *spoilers* Gwyn, I chose to link the First Flame, and watched the credits roll, I didn’t feel jubilation, elation, or any other kind of positive -ation. I was relieved, and I was glad to see the backside of Dark Souls. I put it in the done folder, and I thought I was through with it forever. Ha! I will get to that more in a bit.

One thing I quite like about The Surge is that you had to go back to one early area–Central Production B–several times because doing later parts unlocked new areas. What I didn’t like is that it wasn’t always clear what I was meant to do when I finished an area. Yes, yes, I know esoteric and Souls go together like hand and glove, but usually in a Souls game, you at least know what you’re supposed to go. And, because it’s not exactly linear, sometimes you have several places you can go. Yes, there are areas that you can skip or not even know exist, but in general, all the places you NEED to go are fairly easy to spot. There is one major counter-example in Dark Souls II, but, again, not a Miyazaki* game. In The Surge, I had to check the wikis more than once after finishing a section because I had no idea where I was supposed to go next.

Here’s where we touch on the story. The story is…meh. The premise is serviceable.  You start on a train into CREO, a company dedicated to using technology for the betterment of the world. Yeah, like we have never heard that one before. Like it’s not the basis of a zillion sci-fi novels/movies/TV shows. Yes, there’s the board that even for all their good intentions, ultimately do more evil than good. They are positioned to be the big baddie, which they are in the metaphorical sense, if not the literal one. *mild spoiler* When the train stop, you get off the train, wait, what? I’m in a wheelchair, which is an interesting choice. Not being able to sprint is frustrating, which is a good thing. Here’s the thing, though. It’s just a shtick. The first thing you do after getting off the train is to roll to a place where you choose either ‘Lynx’ (dex) or ‘Rhino’ (tank), and then you have the mechanical pieces grafted onto your body. You’re supposed to be sedated, but it doesn’t take. As a result, you get thrown into the garbage heap, and you wake up to a drone trying to drag you somewhere. And, of course, you can walk. *unspoilered*

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First half of The Surge–otherwise known as Junkyard Souls

grind 'em up!
You didn’t need that arm, did you?

In the world of the Souls-like, I have tried many–oh, so many–with dismal results. Most of them lacked a certain something that makes Souls games addictive to me, though it was different with each game. Ironically, the ones that hewed the closest to Souls were the most disappointing because they made me want to be playing a new Souls game. I haven’t finished most of those games. The one exception to that was Salt & Sanctuary, which I thought was a solid game as a caster, but a shite one as a melee character. I also promptly forgot much of it once I beat it, but that’s neither here nor there. Then, there was a Souls-like I really adored, Hollow Knight, that I just sucked at and knew I wouldn’t be able to finish. I still think it’s a great game, and I love the protagonist.

Anyhoo, one of the more slavish Souls-like games was Lords of the Fallen, made by Deck 13 Interactive. It made no bones about the game being a love letter to Dark Souls, and almost everything they did could be mapped onto something in Souls. It should have been my jam, except it wasn’t because one, the magic was shite (at least in the few hours I played). Two, they mistook careful combat for everything being suuuuuuuper slow. Three, the one thing they added is a timer for getting back your Souls (whatever they were called) when you die, and I hated that. A lot. I tried Lords of the Fallen twice, and quit within a few hours the second time because it just wasn’t very good.

Fast-forward to 2017. Deck 13’s next Souls-like game came out, called The Surge. Lords of the Fallen was called Clunky Souls, which was more than apt. The Surge is Junkyard Souls, though they prefer to say it’s Sci-fi Souls. I watched a bit of YouTubers and reviewers when they played it, and it was immediately much more intriguing than Lords of the Fallen, even though I’m not into sci-fi. At all. I’m way into fantasy, but LotF was so generic, it might as well have not been fantasy at all.

I knew when I saw The Surge that I would try it out. I’ve given most Souls-likes a go, and this one had enough going for it that I wanted to at least give it a shot. I also knew I would wait until it went on sale because I wasn’t paying forty bucks for it. The Steam Summer Sale started last week, and both The Surge and Prey (for some reason, they are the same game to me in my mind) were on steep sale, and both had free demos. I installed both, and before I tell you about The Surge, let me tell you about my experience with the Prey demo.

I fired it up and was immediately nauseated. It’s first-person, and I have severe motion sickness. I fiddled with the FOV, and when I tried to go back to the game, it crashed. When I tried to restart, I couldn’t use my controller. Third time, I was able to get it running, but I was still nauseated. I messed with the FOV for a few more minutes, but nothing seemed to work. I went to the Googles, and the Steam forum informed me that it’s a motion blur problem, and that you have to go into the files to fix it because it’s not an option in-game. Which is infuriating because motion blur, apparently, is to make console game players forget that the game is only 30 fps and not 60 fps, like PCs. Ahem.

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